The first of the season’s two final DTM races at the Norisring closed with a podium finish for Liam Lawson and the team title for Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse. An entertaining and vibrant race, with a palpable tension between the competitors fighting for the title, took place at what the drivers refer to as the “German Monte Carlo”, in front of a packed crowd thronging the 2.3 km street circuit.
At the off, one of the most worrying moments of the entire race, Lawson made the best possible start from pole and protected his first position from the attacks of the cars coming up behind him, particularly that of Van der Linde, who tried braking late but finished long. Clocking the South African’s manoeuvre, Lawson waited a fraction of a second to close his line at the hairpin and was hit by Maini, who was trying to surprise him on the inside. The collision, which seriously damaged the skirt of the 488 GT3 Evo 2020, helped Ellis take the lead. Behind them, despite a spurt from eighth position and a collision with Muth, Cassidy took advantage of the chaos at turn 1 to move into third, behind his teammate.
The AlphaTauri AF Corse driver, standing in for Alex Albon, yielded to Maximilian Götz, one of the drivers still in contention for the title. The Mercedes driver was turning in very quick times. He passed Lawson on lap 7 and took the lead after overtaking Ellis on lap 11. Lawson also tried to get the better of the #57 Mercedes, pulling alongside on the inside of turn 3. Ellis closed his line, and the Ferrari’s driver’s contact was as inevitable as involuntary, as we can see from the fact that the marshals decided not to impose any penalties on the provisional leader.
On lap 24, Lawson pitted, with his teammate Cassidy taking the lead. Ahead of him Kelvin Van der Linde, having already pitted, was shown the blue flag. However, the South African ignored the marshals’ warnings, ruining the race pace and thwarting the New Zealand driver’s strategy. Ahead of Team ABT’s standard-bearer, Lawson passed Auer and moved into Maini’s slipstream. In the meantime, Maini occupied virtual second place behind an unreachable Götz.
Only twice did the Red Bull AF Corse driver seriously threaten the Indian, but the race still had some twists and turns in store. Cassidy made his stop on lap 65, two from the end, returning to the track just ahead of Van der Linde. Taking advantage of the New Zealander’s cold tyres, the Audi driver pulled out all the stops with a throttle-down that allowed him to pass him on the last lap.
Götz was first under the chequered flag, with Lawson third and Cassidy fifth. With this result, Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse mathematically secured the team title, while we will have to wait until the last race of the series tomorrow to find out the winner of the drivers’ title.